BROOKSVILLE — As Hernando County grows, so does the demand for higher education.
In order to meet that need, Pasco-Hernando Community College has embarked on a unique renovation. What was once a gymnasium at the North Campus now houses eight technology-rich classrooms on two levels.
On Thursday morning, school and community officials gathered for a dedication and official ribbon-cutting ceremony at the campus on Ponce de Leon Boulevard.
"Renovation is renewal," said college president Katherine Johnson. "It requires imagination, resourcefulness and resolve."
The school completed this renovation as well as another building project for $7.4 million, officials said.
"The renovation was just an idea on a planning list five years ago," said Thomas Weightman, chairman of PHCC's District Board of Trustees.
Today, the gym has been transformed into classrooms, with lights smart enough to turn on and off by themselves when a person enters the room.
Even the space outside the classrooms was carefully designed with students in mind, officials said. The entire building is equipped with wireless technology, comfortable chairs and built-in benches.
"Research has shown that if students are engaged on campus, they do better," said associate dean Ed Goolsby. "We tried to make it as student-friendly as possible."
Classrooms are equipped with so-called teaching bunkers. Each unit houses DVD players, computers and Elmos, which allow instructors to project images directly from a book or newspaper onto a screen.
And for those missing the gym, a state-of-the-art fitness facility was recently created in building A.
"It's living proof that things can get better with time," said Maurizio Mazo of HuntonBrady Architects.